Goldman Sachs & Preparation

Employing around 300 graduate students every year, as well as numerous interns, Goldman Sachs is one of the best places prospective investment bankers want to go.

As a well-known name in investment banking, competition for student positions can be fierce. However, with solid preparation and foreknowledge of the recruitment process, you strengthen your chances for success.

The following page outlines the application process intended for graduates, but internship candidates can also expect a similar process.

The Goldman Sachs Competencies 


Problem Solving Creativity
Honesty and Integrity Personal Initiatives
High Standards of Excellence Client Service



The Goldman Sachs Online Application

The online application has several opportunities to make a great impression. You are asked to provide your basic details, academic and work history. Goldman Sachs likes employees with language skills, so make sure to highlight those if you have.

Apart from the basic application, there is a second section, which asks you to detail your leadership experience and a third, where you can include a motivational letter.

Leadership Experience - In this section, you are required to answer questions about your previous experience. Example questions include how did your leadership contribute to the team’s success and questions about what, why and how you led.

Think of real-life examples you might have from work or school. Even experience on a sports team can be useful. Structure your answers in this section using the STAR method and keep the Goldman Sachs competencies in mind.

Motivations for Applying Letter - On other applications, this section is referred to as a cover letter. Goldman Sachs calls it motivations for applying letter, because they want your letter to be focused. Think about your reasons for applying specifically to Goldman Sachs.

What about the company stands out as unique to you? Give reasons and evidence to your answers; in addition, mention qualities you can bring to the business. Make sure to link your answers to the position for which you’re applying.

Goldman Sachs First Interview

The first interview you have with Goldman Sachs will be different from the later interviews. This first interview is 30 minutes long and your interviewer is a senior manager from the department for which you are applying.

The interview is competency-based, which focuses on your past experiences, achievements and whether or not you are a cultural fit for Goldman Sachs.

You should also be prepared for industry-specific questions. Give yourself a boost with the interview preparation package.

Some sample interview questions include: 

  • What do you know about Goldman Sachs?
  • Why have you applied to work for us and for the particular programme?
  • Why are you the best person for the job?
  • What are our main products and services?
  • What do you understand about the role Goldman Sachs plays in this industry?
  • Who are our competitors? What are the differences between them and us?
  • What are the biggest issues facing our industry?
  • Who are our clients?

The Goldman Sachs Aptitude Tests

The Goldman Sachs aptitude tests are taken following the first interview. There is a numerical and verbal test given to all candidates whilst technical candidates also face a technical test. These tests are a mix of SHL and Goldman Sachs’ own.

Goldman Sachs Numerical Reasoning Test

The Goldman Sachs numerical test is a 20-minute test with 20 questions. This is a written assessment and you are provided with paper and a pen, but would not be allowed to use a calculator.

Unlike the other aptitude tests, the numerical test is written by Goldman Sachs and not SHL. You can expect to see questions dealing with percentages, fractions and decimals. Sharpen your mental maths skills with the numerical reasoning practice tests.

Goldman Sachs Verbal Reasoning Test

The Goldman Sachs verbal test is also a 20 minute written test. You are given a short text to read and then given a statement related to the text.

You must decide if the statement is ‘true/false/cannot say’ based on the text. Due to the time limitations, you need to work quickly and efficiently. The best way to sharpen your skills is by practising verbal reasoning tests. You can use the verbal reasoning test to get an introduction to this assessment style.

The Goldman Sachs Technical Test

For the technical roles at Goldman Sachs, you will be asked to take a written technical assessment. This test is computer code-based and you are given 1 hour and 20 minutes to answer numerous coding questions.

There are questions in C++, SQL and, possibly, C# and Java as well. It is important to try and clear your head for such questions, as in time-pressured situations you can find yourself making careless mistakes. Make sure that you are fully up to date with practising such situations and working under pressure.

Following a successful interview and aptitude assessment, you will be invited to the Goldman Sachs second stage interviews.

Following a successful first interview and aptitude tests, you will be invited to a number of second round interviews.

Depending on the position you are applying for and your performance, you can be invited to up to 10 interviews with Goldman Sachs.

Unlike the first interview, these second interviews are more technical in nature, with many questions relating directly to the position you have applied for. Below we discuss the common interview topics.

When preparing yourself for these interviews, refer back to the Goldman Sachs key competencies as a guide for your answers.

Skills Set Questions

Each position at Goldman Sachs requires a specific skill set which the interview is looking for by asking this question.

Before the interview, make sure to fully research the position and understand what skills you need.

Be prepared for questions such as what skills have you learned that make you a good fit for this job? Or what skills would you need to develop for your role at Goldman Sachs?

Skill sets by department:

  • Human Capital Management and Technology Division - Technical Skills
  • Finance Division - High motivation
  • Global Compliance Division - Sound judgment
  • Operations Division - Innovative and driven

Teamwork Question

As you already know from the Goldman Sachs competencies, the company puts a big focus on teamwork. They are looking for team players who can collaborate with peers and show integrity.

Working at Goldman Sachs involves working as part of a team every day. Be prepared for questions such as what would you do if you noticed a colleague getting stressed? Or have you ever been in a conflict with a colleague? How did you handle it? 

Communication Questions

Another key competency for Goldman Sachs is communication. In this interview you want to come across as an effective and confident communicator so it’s a good idea to use the STAR method to structure your answers.

A common question in this section is the notorious ‘Tell me about yourself’. Think about the Goldman Sachs competencies and real life examples when planning out your answer.

Commercial Awareness Questions

At Goldman Sachs, commercial awareness means understanding the banking industry and the culture of Goldman Sachs. The only way to do this is through research.

As you prepare, go through some questions about the company such as:

  • What do you know about Goldman Sachs?
  • What do you understand about the company’s place in the industry?
  • Who are Goldman Sachs’ competitors? What are the differences between the companies?

In your answers, show that you have a real interest in the company and a focus on the division you have applied to.

Case Study Questions

During your interview, you may be presented with a question such as ‘What is the difference between client X and client Y?’ You are expected to be able to identify these companies and their differences. 

Brain Teasers

Apart from the more standard questions, you may be faced with bizarre questions from a Goldman Sachs interviewer. These questions, although difficult, are a sign that you are doing well in the interview. An example of one of these brain teasers is: Imagine you are shrunk down to the size of a pencil and thrown into a blender. How would you get out?

This question may seem odd, but assessors are looking at your thought process, creativity and ability to work under pressure when answering these questions so take them seriously. It is important to arrive at these interviews prepared and confident. 

In Summary

Competition for a place on the Goldman Sachs graduate scheme can be tough but with enough practice and preparation, you are sure to succeed. This article has provided you with practice resources and advice that you need to prepare. Good luck!

Goldman Sachs, SHL and other trademarks are the property of their respective trademark holders. None of these trademark holders are affiliated with JobTestPrep or this website. Our materials are designed to help you prepare for the types of assessments you will encounter, but they are not identical to them.

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